Aurat Publication & Information Service Foundation
Legislations according to United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (UNCRPD) demanded, Islamabad


Legislations according to United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (UNCRPD) demanded

Aurat Foundation, in collaboration with the Directorate General of Special Education, organized a policy dialogue, titled ‘Road Map for Justice and Equality for Persons with Disability (PWD)’ on December 3, 2014, the International Day of Persons with Disability, at F-9 Park, Islamabad. The event was supported by AUSDFAT, Trocaire and Women Learning Partnership (WLP).  

Speakers at the occasion spoke about the challenges faced by persons with disabilities and their social inclusion. They also talked about the need for improved awareness among stakeholders, services available for persons with disabilities and current status of legislation on disability. The said that there is no clear legislation at national level for the rights of persons with disabilities, and hence a strong and effective lobbying is required with relevant stakeholders. 

The policy dialogue focused on challenges faced by disable community, inclusion process and challenges of establishing inclusion set ups and international and national commitments which have direct implications on person with disabilities. The event also featured musical performance by the TLC students. 
Ammara Anwar, Program Specialist, Pakistan Foundation Fighting Blindness, in her presentation focused on the challenges faced by disable community of Pakistan.  Major challenges faced by disable community include communication gap among NGOs working for PWDs, and the organizations working for human rights, insufficient quota allocation for persons with disabilities, and 18th amendment and its consequences.  
Violent attitudes faced by PWDs in general and women with disabilities in particular, and lack of interest from both government and private sectors for the development of persons with disabilities is another issues. On the education front, lack of trained teachers and study mechanism especially for persons with mental disorders are the key challenges.  Lack of implementation of quota available for PWDs in employment and other basic services and non-cooperative attitude of the colleagues is also discouraging.
Ammara recommended Directorate General of Special education to hire at least 80 percent persons with disability in their departments and implementation of accessibility codes in all buildings in major cities. 
Saba I Mohsin, Early Intervention Consultant, discussed in detail the inclusion process and challenges of establishing inclusion set ups.  The major challenges, she pointed out, was lack of coordination between ordinary schools and special schools, lack of awareness and education within the community, inadequate attention to disability- friendly infrastructure, lack of teachers’ training, resource materials and funds to develop the inclusive programs, and of course the attitudinal barriers of society including parents, educators and policy makers.
She stressed the need for sufficient financial resources, adequate support system including sufficient trained and qualified professionals, community participation, and on-going evaluation of established programs.

Sradar Pirzada, Journalist, shared his experience of how he became a first blind journalist and after a certain point his disability becomes in his profession which he is when he took assistance PFFB and learn the computer assistive aids. ‘That was his second birth’. He said three level of advocacy required one at state level, secondly by the civil society and thirdly by the disable people them. He further said these three tiers should work together for advocacy and awareness of disability. He highlighted the problems being faced by PWDs in which he said in accessibility is the most important and key factor which is creating hindrance for PWDs.
M Jawwad Afzal, Deputy Director, Directorate General of Special Education, in his presentation shared that out of total population of 180 million, there are 4 to 8 million persons with disabilities in Pakistan, and 45% of these are children under age 18.  At least 3 million adults (both genders included) need rehabilitation through some kind of employment
He further said that the international and national commitments which have direct implications for a change in policy and practices include UN Declaration of Human Rights [1948], UN Convention on the Rights of the Child [1989], World Declaration on Education for All [1990], UN Standard Rules on Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities [1993], Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action [1994], Dakar Framework for Action [2000], UN Millennium Development Goals [2001], National Policy for Persons with Disabilities [2002], and UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2007.
Elaborating the human rights of persons with disabilities he said that they  have right to social, political and economic integration, barrier free access to state resources and services, right to a dignified life as citizen, and that they must not be labelled as ‘handicap’ but be accommodated as ‘human diversity’.
Barrister Usman Ibrahim, State minister for Capital Administration and Development Division said that the government is committed to address the challenges faced by the persons with disability. He said that the implementation of recommendations came forward in the policy dialogue would be a priority for the ministry.  

Barrister Abid Waheed MD Bait-ul-Mal said Bait-ul-Mal is updating services for the PWD’s by introducing electronic wheel chairs and other assistive aids. He also announced they are planning to launch a pilot project to carry out a census of PWDs throughout Pakistan by targeting districts levels so that policies could be developed according to updated census. 

Director Coordination Aurat Foundation Prof. Farkhanda Aurangzeb stressed the need to create special opportunities for women with disabilities. Director Advocacy and Elimination of Violence against Women (EVAW) for Aurat Foundation Rabeea Hadi demanded Employment quota equal to the percentage of disability existing in the society. She suggested the government to prepare a comprehensive database to identify exact number of persons with disabilities and consider disability aspect while drafting new electoral reforms. 

Chief coordinating Officer Aurat Foundation Naeem Mirza demanded legislations according to United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (UNCRPD). 

In closing remarks, Director General Directorate of Special Education Sibghat-ur-Rehman acknowledged the efforts of organisers and said that the Directorate would seriously follow up the recommendations came out from the policy dialogue.  

The event was followed by a family fun gala for disabled children, inaugurated by Barrister Usman Ibrahim, Minister Capital Administration and Development Division.